TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Two tropical depressions formed in the Atlantic on Friday morning, and one of them is the system that’s expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico next week.
Tropical Depression Nine formed over the Caribbean Sea Friday morning, about 515 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, according to an 11 a.m. ET outlook from the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds are about 35 mph.
The NHC says the depression is expected to become a tropical storm by Friday night. It will likely be named either Hermine or Ian. Hermine is the next name on the list, but there are other systems in the Atlantic that could claim it first.
No coastal watches are warnings are in effect right now but the NHC says people in the Caribbean islands and in Florida should keep a close eye on the system as it nears the Gulf.
“I suggest you check in multiple times a day over the next few days as details become a little bit clearer on what is now Tropical Depression Nine but what is likely to be our next named storm,” Max Defender 8 Meteorologist Amanda Holly said.
The current forecast track shows the system moving west-northwest, moving over the central Caribbean Sea through Saturday, passing south of Jamaica Saturday night and Sunday, then approaching the Cayman Islands on Sunday night or early Monday. Slow strengthening is expected in the next few days, followed by more “significant intensification” Sunday and Monday.
“At the moment, it’s very lopsided. It’s still getting its act together,” Holly said. “[But] it is going to organize and it’s going to strengthen. There is a very favorable environment for that as it nears Cuba.”
Environmental conditions also appear favorable for the system once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.
“The National Hurricane Center calls for a Category 3 hurricane – a major hurricane – approaching the west coast of Florida early to mid-next week,” Holly said. “Forecast models have come in better agreement now that we have a closed center of circulation.”
However, Holly says some shifts to the track are expected over the next several days as we monitor the storm and get a more clear picture of the system.
Tropical Depression Nine is expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Windward Islands, northern Venezuela and Colombia, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Those areas could see up to 1 to 2 inches of rain while southern Haiti and the Dominican Republic, recently battered by Hurricane Fiona, could get 2 to 4 inches of rain with a maximum of 6 inches.
However, even heavier rains are expected for Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. Jamaica and Cuba could particularly see mudslides and flash flooding in areas of high terrain.
The NHC says once it’s in the Gulf and approaches land at or near major hurricane strength, there is a potential for significant storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts.
“While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these impacts, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and closely monitor forecast updates through the weekend.”
Elsewhere in the tropics
Tropical Depression 10 also formed Friday morning but poses no threat to land.
Hurricane Fiona remains a powerful storm heading toward Canada.
Tropical Storm Gaston has strengthened and is moving toward the Central Azores.
Tracking the Tropics streams at 2 p.m. ET every Wednesday during hurricane season. For the latest updates, check out our Tracking the Tropics website.